This study examines which cognitive measure best accounts for perseverations in individuals with memory impairment.
The sample included 85 individuals, of whom 21 had subjective memory concerns, 27 had mild cognitive impairment, and 37 had Alzheimer's disease. Participants produced responses on a semantic category fluency task and on the ideational fluency (IF) task from the Cambridge Cognitive Examination-Revised. Measures of word finding, working memory, and abstract thinking were also assessed.
Significant group differences in percentage of perseverations emerged on both tasks. No cognitive measure accounted for the percentage of perseverations on the semantic fluency task. A measure of abstract thinking was the best predictor of the percentage of perseverations on the IF task, followed by a measure of working memory.
The underlying cognitive mechanisms that lead to perseverations differ across tasks, with perseverations on the IF task reflecting both conceptual deficits and working memory limitations.